The Perpetual Beginner

April 6, 2017

Who is the perpetual beginner?

The perpetual beginner plays with the guitar but doesn’t feel like they play it.

The perpetual beginner knows some chords, and probably some – even many – whole songs too, but feels like they’re doing the same thing over and over.

The perpetual beginner has had ongoing struggles with the same problem for a long period of time. Barre chords and chord transitions in general are common challenges.

The perpetual beginner might be very accomplished at executing certain things, and may even be a seasoned performer, but is very aware of their limitations.

Most of all, the perpetual beginner wants to get better but isn’t quite sure how.

Now consider another side of the perpetual beginner.

In Zen practice there is a term “beginner’s mind”. According to Wikipedia:

“Beginner’s mind” refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.

It can actually be more challenging for a player with more experience to improve than for a beginner. So while your knowledge and experience do help you absorb new things more quickly, they can also get in the way if you’ve formed preconceptions or bad habits along the way. Maintaining “beginner’s mind” means seeing yourself as a perpetual student, always learning and always open to something new.

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